Life Is All You Get review

Jan (Vogel) is sacked from a Berlin abattoir after he is fined for his accidental involvement in a street riot. But there's worse to come: a former lover's partner is diagnosed as HIV-positive and then Jan discovers that his father's died. But chance encounters with the beautiful Vera (Paul) and Buddy (Tomlinson), a middle-aged Buddy Holly fan, give him fresh hope.

Very few German films receive British distribution, but Wolfgang Becker's melancholic comedy fully deserves its theatrical release. Unfolding against a Berlin which is in the middle of being reconstructed, Life Is All You Get focuses on `ordinary' people and their problems, as they struggle to cope in an increasingly callous society. Deftly structured and blending deadpan humour with scenes of genuine compassion, it compares favour-ably with the work of Mike Leigh and Ken Loach. A film which, to its credit, goes off in all sorts of unexpected directions.

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